The run of a lifetime

September 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

A few weeks ago my husband and I headed to London to start our two-week European vacation. Like any other runner, I made sure I packed my gear so I could get some runs in while we were there – not only because I am in the middle of my training for the CIM, but also because how cool is it to find a place to run in another country!

I had the best intentions to run several times throughout our trip, but unfortunately I came down with a wicked cold about 4 days into travelling. The good news is that I got the most AMAZING 12-mile run in before I got sick.

A day after we arrived in London my jet lag was pretty much non-existent and since we had some time to walk through the city the first full day we were there, I had a pretty good idea of where I was going to run. So, I woke up around 5 a.m. and headed out into the cool London morning. It’s been a while since I’ve worn my pants, long sleeves and gloves, so it was kind of fun to get all “dressed up”!

As I walked out of the lobby of our hotel, I was greeted by the lovely site of Big Ben – still illuminated because it was barely dawn.

My GPS watch was acting up at the beginning of the run (it wouldn’t find a satellite), but I was ready to get going so I started running and figured it would fix itself soon. A few minutes into the run I saw there was a message on the screen that said something to the effect of: Have you moved far away from home? Ha! That was an understatement. When I selected “yes” it finally found where I was and I was able to track my time and distance. (I was more concerned with distance because I wanted to make sure I got my miles in…and to make sure I didn’t stray too far from the hotel.)

Running through the sleeping city was so refreshing. There were a few people walking around, but it was nothing like the hustle and bustle of the streets when all the tourists are out in full force. I ran past the London Eye and over the Millennium Bridge and then started down the street toward Trafalgar Square. I got to see a bunch of the city’s great monuments and then I turned towards Green Park (a Royal Garden). The path by the park led me right to Buckingham Palace! Seeing it without the throngs of people crowded around it was great.

After passing the palace, I headed into a part of the city that we hadn’t explored yet so I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d find. The next thing I know, I was running through the gate at Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens. It was absolutely beautiful. The air was still really cool and I could see a layer of fog on some of the open areas of grass. The paths were completely empty with the exception of me and a couple of other runners, so it was like I had the entire park to myself. The pond in the middle of the park added to the serene landscape and then I happened upon a really pretty fountain area at the end of the park.

As I continued around the pond I headed deeper into the park and felt like I could run in there forever. I lost myself among the fields and trees and took in all the sites I could possibly lay my eyes on.

That’s when I saw a giant shiny statue at the end of the path I was on. I couldn’t tell what it was, so I decided to head down the path to see it. I am so glad I did because it was incredible! It was a memorial for Prince Albert and it was absolutely breathtaking. The sun was shining so perfectly and enhanced every bit of gold on the monument.

Even though there were still tons of paths to run in the park, I had reached my 6 mile mark and I decided to turn around and head back to the hotel. I took a slightly different way back (unintentionally), which turned out to be better because I ended up running past St. Paul’s Cathedral and through some of the side streets in London. I also had a chance to see a building that we had seen on a brief tour we took that still had shrapnel damage from World War II. It was a bit creepy to see it, but cool at the same time. The city has so much history and the fact that I was experiencing so much of it on this run was amazing.

By the time I finished, not only had I had the run of a lifetime, but I ended with a great time: 12 miles; 1:49. I feel very privileged that I was able to experience this and I will never forget it.

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